Nelson Mandela Bay wholesalers latest to close over Covid-19

Police on the scene at Jumbo Cash and Carry in Grahamstown Road where staff have refused to work
CLOSED FOR BUSINESS: Police on the scene at Jumbo Cash and Carry in Grahamstown Road where staff have refused to work

Jumbo Cash and Carry wholesalers in Port Elizabeth has become the latest Covid-19 casualty, with the store closed on Tuesday morning after staff voiced their concerns over two of their colleagues testing positive.

More than 100 workers gathered outside the store in protest,  demanding to be tested and for the store to be deep-cleaned.

However, Massmart group corporate affairs executive Brian Leroni said they had been compliant and the store had already been sanitised.

“We follow a very strict and particular protocol and preventive measures which include the extensive deep-cleaning of the store which has already been done and the isolation of the two staff members who tested positive,” Leroni said.

He said the company was diligent in the symptomatic screening of every staff member every morning before coming into work.

A 25-year-old employee who asked not be named said it is alleged that the results of the positive cases were received on Saturday but they were only informed on Monday morning.

This after staffers worked throughout the weekend and Monday.

“We decided to stay out today and not work because we want to get tested first and we are hearing that only three people got tested, what about the health of the rest of us.”

Another worker said hundreds of people came into the store on any given day and there was a risk of spreading the virus further if the workers were not tested.

Leroni said 97% of the staff were on the company medical aid and could go to any public or private facility for a test.

“Before Covid-19, testing wasn’t included but since the outbreak the test is now available on the medical aid  and we encourage staff to use it but we will also be liaising with the department of health for further advice.”

He said the store had already been deep-cleaned but the police ordered the store to close because they were concerned about the gathering outside the premises.

“We already have deep-cleaned and I mean we cannot do it again. However, we will if that is the requirement but we are consulting with our lawyers and the police on what we should do but for now the store is closed.”

South African Commercial‚ Catering and Allied Workers Union (Saccawu) regional secretary and provincial spokesperson Simphiwe Valela said they were consulting with the store management, the department of health and the department of employment and labour on the process of screening and testing the employees.

The closure of the wholesaler comes after Covid-19 closed three stores — Walmer based Dis-Chem and Pick n Pay as well as Checkers in Newton Park — on Monday.